Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reaction: Tag Clouds and the Case for Vernacular Visualization

     This article details the history of tag clouds, what they are, and their strengths and weaknesses. Overall I thought this was a fairly good article detailing why tag clouds can do a poor job at summarizing large sets of data in most cases. I was a little confused why there needed to be a very large distinction between visualization methods originating inside or outside academia. While all visualization methods should be evaluated for their effectiveness and clarity, and it seems silly to make such a distinction and almost comes off as somewhat condescending.
     The article's examples of the one-word tag clouds versus the two-word tag cloud was interesting. While the two-word tag cloud provided more insight into what the speech was actually about, most words seem to either be extremely large (only one), large (about two), and everything else. This does not seem to indicate frequency as much as the one-word cloud, but probably gives a better indication of content. More details about this would be interesting.
     Overall the article is fairly good and comes down pretty hard against word clouds, which i would mostly agree with, especially for things like speeches. I did like how they gave examples of word clouds that were more beneficial, such as tags of users photos that give an overview of that user.